EDSA, 25: Never Again

Lawyer Joey Hofileña says the country revolted in 1986 only to return to the same place where it started

(Editor’s Note: This story is first published by Newsbreak.)

MANILA, Philippines – How do I write a suitable essay about my memories of the “EDSA” people power revolution of 1986? Having been, in my own little way, somewhat involved during those days some 25 years ago, it would be quite a task to even begin to select which among my many EDSA revolution-related experiences I should focus on.

Should I start with the critical events that occurred before February 1986? Perhaps I should attempt to describe how curiously personal Ninoy Aquino’s despicable murder felt to me as to not mind lining up for hours among thousands of people of an incredible assortment—from well-coifed matronas to pre-pubescent public school students—to be able, for just a few seconds, to see his bloodied corpse.

Maybe I could follow through with my disbelief at how many people, in a clear outburst of repressed and suppressed political emotion, either lined up the streets or walked the many kilometers to reach Ninoy’s burial grounds. And how, I began to first sense that it might actually be possible to topple the corrupt Ferdinand Marcos.

Or I could possibly concentrate on my trepidation over the movement to have the “plain” housewife, Cory, run against the conjugal dictatorship (yes, I lacked faith). But even if I were to limit my essay to events at EDSA itself, choosing what to write about would not be any less distressing.

Long nights

Should it cover the cautious buoyancy engendered by Cardinal Sin’s call to gather at EDSA? Or the emergent consciousness of just how deprived the people were of information seeing how imperative it became to get hold of a copy of the alternative publications such as the special editions of Mr. & Ms. or the newly-born Philippine Daily Inquirer?

To be sure, any account I would make of those days at EDSA should include a narration of the days and nights spent camped out in front of the V.V. Soliven building with the Ateneo Law School delegation, heeding the call to join in the fight for justice and democracy.

Of feeling a distinct pride in discovering that one of my law school classmates, then Col. Egay Aglipay, was a proud member of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM).  Of cheering madly with each sighting of military helicopters passing overhead to land in Camp Crame with even more military defectors.

Of the lifting of our fatigued spirits upon each playback of Mambo, Mambo Magsaysay.  Of the anxiety on hearing news that tanks were dispatched by Malacañang to EDSA. Of the reinforcement of our belief in inevitable success with each reassuring transmission from June Keithly’s Radyo Bandido and Radio Veritas.

Marcoses are back

I would certainly have to note my unabashed elation upon receiving definitive news that the Marcos family had fled in retreat and the people’s overflowing sentiment of pride in effecting the monumental change back to democracy with all indications pointing to a better future for our country and its people.

And I would likely conclude with a reflection that the T-shirt bearing the image of Marcos, with the words “Never Again!” was, for me, the most precise encapsulation of what fellow Filipinos and I had just fought for.

However, as I pause to ponder about which of these events I should write about, I promptly realize that 25 years hence, only a small portion of the immense wealth plundered by Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies has been recovered. That there remains a chance that he may yet be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. That Imelda has not been convicted for the excesses for which the revolution occurred.

On top of that, she is now a member of Congress. Imee is governor of Ilocos Norte, prior to which, she served three terms in the House of Representatives. And Bongbong is a senator of the Republic.

It is simply preposterous and unacceptable that more than two decades after the people’s epic efforts at EDSA, no convictions have been rendered. Worse, the same corruption that prompted millions of angry Filipinos to banish the Marcoses continues to this day to enrich those who have deceitfully taken oaths to eradicate it.

Apparently, we revolted only to return to the same place where we started. – Rappler.com